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Orkney Marine Services
On the 6th July 2009, following a restructure of the departments within Orkney Islands Council, a new division was launched under the auspices of Marine Services which incorporates the Harbour Authority, Orkney Towage and Orkney Ferries.
Orkney Islands Council Division of Marine Services as the Competent Harbour Authority (CHA) is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the 29 piers and harbours located throughout the Orkney Islands under their jurisdiction and operate under the principles set out in the Port Marine Safety Code.
The range of ports and harbours within Marine Services are both varied and diverse; from the Oil Port of Scapa Flow that hosts multiple ship to ship transfer operations of crude oil and vessels serving the Flotta Oil Terminal, to the major harbours of Kirkwall and Stromness that receive on average 70 cruise Ships annually making Orkney the most popular cruise ship destination in Scotland, to the remote island facilities of North and South Isles which receive almost daily lifeline services from our fleet of 13 Inter Island Ferries carrying over 320,000 passengers annually.
Scottish mainland ro-ro ferry services via Northlink Ferries operate on a daily basis to the ports of Aberdeen, Lerwick from Hatston and Scrabster from Stromness; a container service operates twice weekly from Lerwick and Aberdeen to Kirkwall.
In addition to the larger vessels using the port facilities, there is a strong commercial inshore fishing fleet located throughout the islands as well as the ever increasing pleasure craft fleet some of which call into our 3 Marinas in Kirkwall, Stromness and Westray... Berthing and landing facilities are provided throughout the islands to meet the needs for these sectors.
Marine Services provides all pilot launch and pilotage services directly as well as Vessel Traffic Services for Scapa Flow and approaches and the Kirkwall Harbour area.
The emergence of the Renewable Energy sector in Orkney and the awarding of Crown Estate leases in Orkney waters this autumn, will add to the considerable growth that this industry has witnessed in recent months.
Orkney is firmly placed on the map as the centre for the development of wave and tidal Renewable Energy in the United Kingdom. This places Towage Services based in Scapa, as a key logistical element in the installation and servicing of Renewable Energy devices in Orkney waters. In recent months, Towage services have experienced increased activity in the installation and servicing of wave and tidal devices and the utilisation of quayside for energy device construction has been significant.
We hope that within this website you will find information that will assist you in the planning of a visit to any of the port facilities that we are proud to operate.
Scapa Flow History
Much of the following is taken from Charles Tait's 'The Orkney Guide Book' (ISBN 0951785958):
Although long used as a transport route and a fishery and mentioned many times in the Viking Saga's it was not until the 16th century that Alexander Lindsay, pilot for James V of Scotland, did a survey of Orkney waters, including Scapa Flow. The name itself derives from the Old Norse Skalpeidfloi – bay of the long valley isthmus.
In 1812 Scapa Flow was suggested as a temporary rendezvous of the Royal Navy. In the same year the United States had declared war against Britain and this caused the first recent coastal defences to be built around Scapa Flow. Hackness Martello Tower and Battery, along with another tower on the north side at Crockness, were built between 1813 and 1815 to guard Longhope against attack by privateers supporting the United States during the Napoleonic wars. Due to the action of French Privateers in the English Channel many ships were taking the westabout route through the Pentland Firth. Ships collected at Longhope until a warship escort arrived and were vulnerable to attack during this time. The 33ft high towers contain living accommodation for the gun crew, a magazine below and a revolving gun carriage on top. The 24-pounder gun thus had a 360 degree arc of fire and a very good view of any approaching ships. The battery nearby had 8 24-pounder guns covering Switha and Cantick Sounds and was protected by an embankment and stone parapet. In 1866 the guns were replaced with 68-pounders firing through embrasures.
In 1905 the Admiralty became more interested in using Scapa Flow as a base for the Home Fleet. Before World War I the Navy held exercises in most years, often involving up to 100 ships. Just before the start of the war the Grand Fleet put to sea and dispersed to Scapa. Nothing yet had been done to render the harbour secure against attack and the fleet was continually under threat of U-boats or even a daring destroyer attack. Gradually defences were improved with 21 block-ships sunk at the eastern approaches, anti-submarine nets suspended between long lines of herring drifters, boom defences and various guns mounted on coastal positions.
The Northern Patrol covered the sea area between Iceland, Scotland and Norway, and intercepted 15,000 ships during World War I. This effective blockade was carried out by the 10th Cruiser squadron, most of which were armed merchant ships.
There were also tragic allied losses during World War I in the Scapa Flow area. In June 1916 Lord Kitchener, the Minister of War, arrived in Scapa Flow on his way to Russia to confer with the Czar's government. He left on board the 11,000 ton HMS Hampshire on 5th June and took the unusual westerly route due to the unseasonably bad weather. This weather had also prevented mine-sweeping in the area and it was a mine that caused the ship to sink with the loss of all but 12 of her company. In Scapa Flow itself an internal explosion caused HMS Vanguard to blow up with the loss of all but two of her crew, over 1,000 men, on 9th July 1917.
Twenty two years later at the start of World War II, the battleship HMS Royal Oak was sunk at her moorings by a torpedo from a U-boat. The sinking resulted in the loss of 833 men and boys out of a total of about 1200. The means of sinking drew attention to the inadequacy of the protection around Scapa Flow. Many of the blockships sunk in World War I had been shifted by the tide or had disintegrated. More blockships had been procured and there were plans for further coastal defences but these had not yet been put in place.
The possibility of permanently blocking the eastern entrance to Scapa Flow was considered even before World War I but it wasn't until 6 months after the sinking of the Royal Oak that a plan was finally approved. In the meantime a further 13 blockships had been sunk. The Civil contractors Balfour Beatty were given the task of creating the four Churchill Barriers. This eventually employed 1700 men, including some Italian Prisoners of War, cable ways that had been used to build a bridge over the river Tigris in Iraq and power stations, railways and quarries. A total of nearly 1 million cubic metres of rock were used in their construction and they were clad with 36,500 5 ton blocks and 15,000 10 ton blocks.
Although not officially opened until May 1945 i.e. at the war's; end, as early as 1942 the rock filled wire baskets were breaking the water surface and preventing any further entry of submarines in an effective, definitive way.
Scapa Flow continues to attract the world's navies, with NATO exercises and one-off visits still occurring. However, it has been the development of the oil terminal on Flotta, started in 1974 and operational two years later, which has brought some of the biggest ships afloat, huge oil carriers, into the great natural harbour. For similar reasons it is the available depth and shelter which has seen proposals for a container transhipment hub in Scapa Flow, able to accommodate ships not yet built but too deep and/or too wide for many of the world's existing ports.
Mr Brian Archibald, Head of Transportation and Amenities
BRIAN ARCHIBALD MBA, B.Sc. (Eng) FCMIR, MIMarEST
Brian joins Orkney Islands Council as Head of Transportation and Amenities under which comes marine Services incorporating the Harbour Authority, Orkney Ferries and Orkney Towage.
Brian previously served 36 years in the Royal navy rising to the rank of Commodore. By profession, he is a Warfare Officer with sea command experience, by education he is an engineer and by his more recent experience he has led a range of multi discipline teams charged with the management of complex capital investment, service and delivery and transformation programmes.
In addition to his management of marine Services, Brian is also responsible for the delivery of the Interisland Air service and Public Bus services, Engineering, Waste Management, Quarries and Airport Runways.
Mr David Sawkins, Harbour Master
David Sawkins joined Orkney Islands Council as Ferry Services Manager for Orkney Ferries Limited in 2005, a wholly owned Company of the Council.
With the formation of Orkney Islands Council Marine Services in 2009 he was appointed to Head of Marine Services (Support) in April 2009 and was Interim Director of Marine Services from January 2011 to September 2012. He was appointed to his present post of Marine Services Senior Manager and Harbour Master in September 2012.
He is a full member of the UK Harbour Masters Association, a Council member of the British Ports Association and holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Engineering and Management Studies.
Captain Abul Alam, Port Operations Manager / Deputy Harbour Master
Captain Alam, a Class-1 Master Mariner having 5 years of command experience. He worked at sea for 21 years on board Car Carries/Ro-Ros, Bulk Carriers, VLCC, General Cargo and Multi-purpose ships. He holds a graduate Diploma in Management and and also an HND in Nautical science.
Captain Alam undertook 2 year pre-sea Cadet training from Bangladesh Marine Academy; a branch of the World Maritime University, Sweden. He studied at Cork, Ireland for his first professional qualification. He also undertook further studies at the Blackpool & the Fylde College and obtained Chief Mate CoC and an HND. He achieved his Master Mariner qualification from South Tyneside College.
Captain Alam’s first shore job was at Shetland Nautical School as a Lecturer. In 2006 he joined Orkney Ferries as Deputy Marine Superintendent. After the launch of Local Authority's Marine Services division in 2009, he was appointed as Marine Superintendent. In April 2011 he was appointed as Head of Operations of Orkney Ferries and Orkney Towage Company to oversee the overall Operations of both fleets and act as DPA. In September 2012 Captain Alam was appointed as Port Operations Manager and Deputy Harbour Master. He is responsible for day-to-day Harbours operations including the line management of the VTS Officers.
Miss Hazel Stephen, Office Manager
Hazel has been with the Department of Harbours since 1976 and is one of the Councils longest serving employees having served under 5 Directors of Harbours. After spending 8 years as a clerical assistant and 2 years as secretary, she was promoted to Administration Support.
Hazel is responsible for personnel matters, sales and purchase ledgers, budget control, and the day to day administration duties of the Marine Services Division.
Mr Michael Morrison, Business Development Manager
Michael is the first Business Development Manager to be appointed to the Marine Services Division. He joined the Service in January of 2009 having previously been the General Manager for Loganair at Kirkwall Airport.
An Orcadian by birth, Michael spent 13 years in the British Army and then worked residential property in England and Scotland before spending 11 years in the Far East in Business Development and Project Management.
Michael is responsible for revenue generation and market awareness for all facets of the Ports Estates including ship to ship oil transfers, cruise ships, marine renewable energy infrastructure development and marketing initiatives for these revenue streams.
Orkney Islands Council, Marine Services
Harbour Authority Building, Scapa, Orkney
Tel: +44 (0)1856 873636
Fax: +44 (0)1856 873012
- Mr Brian Archibald Head of Transportation and Amenities
- Mr David Sawkins Harbour Master
- Captain Abul Alam Port Operations Manager / Deputy Harbour Master
- Miss Hazel Stephen Office Manager
- Mr Michael Morrison Business Development Manager
At Orkney Harbours we recognise that the people we employ are our greatest asset. We therefore seek to attract the best people, provide them with the opportunities to develop their skills and encourage them to make their career with us. Working for Orkney Harbours could take you further than you ever thought possible.
Career development is fundamental to our success. It promotes a culture of continuous self-development; provides a stimulus for personal and business growth; complements our appraisal process; and, importantly, supports an individual's ongoing development plans.
Orkney Harbours is always looking for individuals with exceptional talent coupled with business experience. If your background is in any of the areas of port operations, and you would like to pursue a career with Orkney Harbours, please contact us at email@example.com with your CV.
Orkney Harbours is an equal opportunities employer and no terminology in these adverts is intended to discriminate on any grounds. We confirm that we will gladly accept applications from any persons matching the skills requirements for these roles.
It is unlawful for us to employ a person who does not have permission to live and work in the UK. Unless the adverts state otherwise, please ensure you have this permission before applying as documentary evidence will be required.
Sorry, there are currently no vacancies.